Top Marks: Sacramento Lays Off Its ‘Teacher Of The Year’

sacramento teacherJust in case anyone needed more proof that the American educational system is in serious need of repair, here’s a story out of California to make you shake your head.

Michelle Apperson is a 6th grade teacher in Sacramento, California. Or I guess I should say, she was. This year, Apperson was named ‘Teacher of the Year’ by the Sacramento City Unified School District. But that honor couldn’t save her from being laid-off during state budget cuts. Now, the best teacher in the city is without a job.

We all know how it works. States are strapped for cash and therefore cutting back on school funds at every possible turn. For the past year, I’ve been active in helping my daughter’s new school fundraise for a new playground. Their previous recess area had treated wood chips under the jungle gym which are no longer considered safe. The school board determined that the playground had to go, but couldn’t come up with the money to pay for any replacement. Without the hard work of teachers and parents, the early childhood center would’ve had absolutely no playground for its hundreds of pre-k and kindergartners.

There are stories like this in every school district across the country. For Sacramento’s part, they say that they’ve seen their budget drop by $143 million in recent years. And there’s a state law that mandates all lay-offs occur by seniority. The school’s hands were tied when it comes to letting go of one of their most effective teachers.

It seems like it’s all a matter of budgets and procedures, but parents need to get involved in these conversations. We need to think about how our votes actually effect the schools and the classrooms in our area. We need to think about school board appointments and state legislatures who have the power to tear apart or lift up our schools.

How many stories like that of Michelle Apperson do we need to hear before we realize that our educational system isn’t retaining and rewarding the best teachers?

I hope that Ms. Apperson finds a position in time for next school year. Not just for her or her students, but because I know the power of a really great teacher. I was lucky enough to encounter a few of them when I was a student and they forever changed the way I thought and the way I learned. I hope every student gets the opportunity to meet that type of educator. It’s too bad that the kids of Sacramento just got one less chance.

(Photo: The Inquistr)


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